Ikarus From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 3524 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (12 years 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 2289 times:
According to the head of the wing design team on the A400, Airbus is currently working on the following:
1) An A300/A310 replacement jokingly dubbed A305 by the employees, as they're still specifying and not sure whether it will be closer to A300 or A310 in size, or square in the middle between the two
2) A rather slow, ultra-high capacity freighter for container transport to lure traffic away from container ships.
3) Some supersonic concept planes.
Number 2 sounds a bit like the Boeing Ekranoplan that has been reported on in the press. Number 3 is likely to remain conceptual for quite a while to come. And number 1 - well, sooner or later it's gonna happen, along with the A320 replacement that has been mentioned in the press a few times now (mainly because the EU is directly funding materials development costs for its design)
At Boeing, there's the Ekranoplan thing, the Sonic Cruiser (unless its recent cancellation as reported by the Portuguese press was genuine) and who knows what else.
But honestly, I don't think the freighters or supersonic/transsonic planes are too likely to be seen in the next 20 years.
What do I realistically believe to see in the next 20 years? Mainly replacements for current types. Perhaps a few reluctant steps into Fuselage-wing integration (BWB etc). Main advances are in materials, systems and engines.
Perhaps, in 20-30 years, BWB technology will really take off, with high-capacity airliners to replace the A380 and 747, as well as smaller types with BWB-derived aerodynamic benefits, but still a more conventional structural layout. Perhaps the sonic boom will be reduced and supersonic business jets will become a reality, as well as supersonic ultra-long range aircraft for transpacific transport. But that would be a lot more than 20 years into the future. Perhaps 50...
RayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 8031 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (12 years 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 2224 times:
I think the so-called blended-wing body airplane could become reality within 15 years, primarily as a freighter.
Between the tremendous carrying capacity and very low fuel burn, the BWB could become the true replacement for the 747 Freighter versions. Imagine carrying twice the load of a 747-400F but with the range of the 747-400 passenger version (about 7,200 nautical miles); FedEx, UPS, DHL, CargoLux, Northwest Cargo, Lufthansa Cargo, Cathay Pacific Cargo, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Emirates Airways Cargo, and Atlas Air would love to get a hand on these future freighters.
Bsergonomics From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2002, 462 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (12 years 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 2188 times:
We are working on the preliminary studies for pilotless freighters. It is envisaged that this will be the intermediate step from UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles) to the passenger market. However, you're looking at about 20-30 years before unmanned freighters reach the commercial market, and another 10-15 years before passenger variants, despite the technology being mature enough much sooner.
Essentially, the two stumbling blocks are the regulators and the fears of passengers.
The research isn't aimed at a specific platform as yet, but provides a generic framework that can be applied to most/all unmanned aircraft.
The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...